“Help! I am pregnant and not married!
I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. I hadn’t dated in over 7 years, not since my divorce. I was terrified, as I had finally become free from a very abusive and manipulative relationship with a pastor. I didn’t think I could become pregnant. My ex-husband and I had tried for years, and he thought I was sterile. So when I found out I was pregnant with the man I loved, I was quite shocked.
My name is Danielle Sarchet, and when I was 32 years old I found out I was pregnant in a very evangelical and conservative city. For those of you reading this who live in similar locations, you will understand from that simple statement how hard that could be. I was a 32-year-old world-traveling woman. I had lived in South Korea and Thailand and had visited over 26 different countries. I had my own house which I rented while traveling, and I had a degree in psychology. I was almost debt-free and had a strong, close-knit community.
I remember taking three pregnancy tests, and all of them showed positive. The first thought I had was, ‘I’m going to get fired. I just started a non-profit. I need to call my friend so I don’t get an abortion.’
I immediately called one of my friends of over 13 years who I knew would talk me out of getting an abortion. Please keep in mind: I am pro-choice, but at the time, I knew it wasn’t for me. I knew I would be wrecked if I did have an abortion. This was my personal choice, but I do believe it is the choice of the woman.
Let’s give you some short facts. When my son’s father found out, he immediately wanted me to have an abortion and screamed and yelled at me and did everything he could to convince me not to keep the child. Turns out, he had 3 other women he was engaged to in three different states. This all came out early on in my pregnancy. I also worked in a Christian non-profit where I was shamed almost daily by volunteers, co-workers, missionaries, etc. I had a few people who came alongside me and supported me. We had over 2,500 volunteers so it was inevitable. Let’s see if I can sum up a few things I was told:
‘It’s okay, Danielle, everyone makes mistakes’—This was said to me all the time.
‘Danielle needs to be punished for her sins; she needs to be suspended.’
‘I won’t be taking the kits Danielle has touched because they are now tainted with her sin.’
‘Do you know how this looks and reflects on me as a leader?’—This was said by my deacon, pastor, and my boss.
‘We have donors coming around, can you please go upstairs so they don’t see you?’
‘Please don’t talk about this to the volunteers.’ The third trimester was rough with that, as you can imagine.
‘What should we do with Danielle since she has committed a sin?’—This was said by you guessed it: pastoral leadership.
‘There should be consequences to Danielle’s actions.’
‘You can’t apply for this position/promotion because you won’t be able to do it as a single mom.’
Needless to say, I had a lot of shame to work through during my 9 months between my job, my church, my friend circle, and drama with my baby daddy. I remember telling everyone they were right, and I would cry over my shame all the time. Here are two things I couldn’t shake though:
I contemplated abortion not because I doubted my ability to be a mom but because of the church and my job at a Christian non-profit. I was rising in leadership, and I just started a non-profit called ‘Beautiful Mess Ministries’—go figure. I knew deep down that what I did wasn’t a mistake. I knew I could still be promoted even though I was a single mother. I knew the way I was being treated and what was being said to me and about me wasn’t right. I knew I shouldn’t be ashamed of the kid inside me.
What changed my mind? An answer from God himself about the grace that covers all transgressions? Nope: A ParentHood Episode where the single mom was talking to her defiant teenage daughter.
Mom: ‘Why do you insist on making the same mistakes I did?!’
Daughter: ‘I hate when you say that because all it tells me is that I am a mistake!’
Wow…that hit me like a ton of bricks. Like. A. Ton. Of. Bricks.
It even now brings tears to my eyes.
I did NOT have a mistake growing in my belly. I didn’t surprise God—I just surprised myself and everyone around me. He knew, though. God knew, and this child is not a mistake.
So then I started my journey, not only as a mom but as an advocate and educator within the church and work communities in my reach.
When my son came into the world, the only shame I had moving forward was that I once was ashamed of him and how he came into the world. I told everyone all the time, ‘If what I did was a mistake, I would make that mistake ten times over again to get this kid.’ I was a 32-year-old woman: it was my choice to keep my son, and it was my choice to be a single mom. There should be no shame in that.
The journey afterward wasn’t easy, but I had a new goal: I was learning and experiencing life in such new and amazing ways. Did I lose people along the way? Surely yes, but I also gained a brand new community of believers and other single moms who left the church because of similar experiences to what I went through.
Fast-forward 5 years. Do I still get people who try to shame me? Discriminate against me? Yes—that’s the world, right? I get to show my son how I fight against that; I get to show him how he can treat people because they are different and have different family dynamics.
I found so much strength in my own Christian walk, in how I interpreted the scriptures, and in my son. My son, I think, has been a huge vessel in showing me my worth, showing me what love is, and dedication and commitment. Before, I struggled to be single and you would think I would struggle more as a single mom, but I don’t. I am so happy and content with just me and my son. I enjoy living life with him with all of the challenges. He is a light of love, craziness, and kindness. He always tells me how he helps others at school, and he is so smart. I left my toxic job of 7 years to move overseas with my son, and our thriving began.
I have a different full-time job now, and I own my own marketing company that helps other single moms and women thrive by doing freelance marketing work. It is amazing to see their journeys and be able to provide a little passive income for myself. I have my own non-profit that also seeks to help single moms and empower girls and women all around the world through resources and networking. My confidence is growing. I also now help other churches understand and train them to welcome and care for single moms in their own communities without shame.
I do believe there are so many more resources that are needed for single moms, so many more opportunities that should be made available. It was hard, but I also know I don’t have it the hardest. I wouldn’t change a thing in our journey honestly because now I can help teach others. I do pray and hope the dynamic does change within churches though, and I do feel passionate about this.
If you are reading this and have a similar story or you are a single mom, I want to say, ‘YOU GOT THIS!! YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU CAN SURVIVE. YOU CAN THRIVE. LEAVE ALL THE SHAME BEHIND.’ Girl, keep your head held high and focus on how you can thrive and how you can make yourself better because that is all you can control sometimes. Find healing through self-care when you can, build your village and community that doesn’t focus on shame. Connect, be vulnerable, keep pressing on. Be present when you can with your little ones. What they see in you is what they will emulate in the future. Ask yourself, ‘What story would my child write about me?’ and ‘How does my child perceive me?’ Focus on your healthy growth for your mind, your spirit, your body, and your finances. You can DO this.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Danielle Sarchet from Lynchburg, VA. You can follow her journey on her website and here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about single mothers by choice:
‘At 18, I nonchalantly said to my friend over dinner, ‘I could always have a baby on my OWN.’ I was unlucky in love. Months before graduation, I committed.’: Single mom by choice says ‘this is the best decision I ever made’
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